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Ryan Zimmerman is the best player of the 2017 MLB season so far and its not even close

Ryan Zimmerman is the best player of the 2017 MLB season so far and its not even close

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

As a first-round draft pick for the Washington Nationals back in 2005, there has always been high expectations for infielder Ryan Zimmerman. Thirteen seasons later, he is finally vaulting into one of the most dangerous players in the league at 32 years of age. 

Although the Nationals are merely a fifth of the way through an exhausting 162 game schedule (played 31 games as of Sunday night), Zimmerman is dominating the majors and second place is nowhere to be seen. Here is a list of the statistical categories that Zimmerman leads (followed by second place):

  • Hits: 47 (2nd- 43)
  • Home runs: 13 (tied with Aaron Judge)
  • RBIs: 34 (2nd- 28)
  • Batting Average: .435 (2nd- .377)
  • Slugging Percentage: .907 (2nd- .772)
  • On-base percentage plus slugging (OPS): 1.382 (2nd- 1.227)

In addition, the first baseman is second in doubles (12), tied for third in runs (28), and trails only Bryce Harper in on-base percentage (.475). The only players that are on the same level of the 13-year veteran is none other than his teammate, Harper. Playing in two fewer games than Zimmerman, Harper is in the top-10 in all those categories as well. 

It is without a doubt the 32-year-old is seeing the ball better than he has in years. Already, he is in mid-season form and should be a lock to make his second career All-Star game. He has helped carry Washington to an NL best 21-10 record, missing only one game. 

Prior to this season, Zimmerman was in a steady decline and was facing numerous injury issues. The 2009 All-Star had missed a large chunk of the 2014-16 seasons. In the three-year span, he only played in 55 percent of the regular season games and was passed around from third, to left field, and eventually placed at first.

Last season in 115 games, he had one of his worst performances of his career. As a starting first-baseman, he had career-lows in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Take away his first season (20 games) and 2014 (61 games) and those career-lows grows to include doubles, RBIs, and total bases. 

Back in 2006, he was the runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting to Hanley Ramirez and was named a Silver Slugger in 2009 and 2010. 

Now, it's still early in the 2017 season and it would be ridiculous to expect Zimmerman to keep up this pace as the season goes on. However, he is the early contender for NL MVP and, barring any setbacks, should be able to hold on to consistent numbers throughout the year.

One thing that Nationals fans can sure hang their hat on though, is that the former first round pick is back on track in being one of the best players in not only the National League, but the majors as well. 

MORE NATS: Bullpen blows another late-game lead

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.



NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.

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Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

USA TODAY Sports Images

Nationals Roundup: Late Victor Robles magic not enough as Braves walk-off Nats

As you would expect a first-place NL East team to do, the Atlanta Braves bounced back to even the series with Washington Friday night inside SunTrust Park. Josh Donaldson erased Victor Robles' game-tying, two-run home run with his walk-off single in the ninth. Atlanta improved to 59-40 and increased its lead over the Nationals to 6.5 games with a 4-3 final. 

Consider these notes as Washington grinds through a pivotal series in Atlanta: 

Player Notes:

Washington's first-year lefty didn't have his best stuff going Friday night in Atlanta. Patrick Corbin tossed just five innings allowing eight hits, two runs, two walks on 100 pitches. He struck out five Braves on his 30th birthday. 

The Nationals' third baseman has brought new meaning to the word 'consistency' all year long in his first season as an All-Star. Two games into this four-game series in Atlanta, Anthony Rendon has five hits, a walk, and 2 RBI.  

Victor Robles brought the fireworks in the ninth at SunTrust Park. The 22-year-old delivered a game-tying, two-run home run off Luke Jackson. The long-ball traveled a whopping 446 feet. 

The Fernando Rodney experience was alive and well. Davey Martinez made the questionable decision to bring his 42-year-old back out in the ninth for a second consecutive inning. It backfired. Just 14 of his 32 pitches were thrown for strikes. 


SP Max Scherzer: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 25

RP Jonny Venters: Back, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

SP Jeremy Hellickson: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Justin Miller: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 20

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, Expected to be out until at least Aug 7

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, Expected to be out until at least Jul 26

Coming Up:

Saturday 7/20: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Sunday 7/21: Nationals at Braves, 7:20 p.m., SunTrust Park 

Monday 7/22: Nationals vs. Rockies, 7:05 p.m., Nationals Park